Life After Leadville

Life after Leadville has actually contained a considerable amount of riding bikes, far less than I used to in preparation of the race but more than I thought I would be doing. I took almost two weeks off. The third week some friends talked about riding White Ranch after work. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go because even at my peak fitness level they are still considerably faster than me and it was also the same route that I had crashed and banged up my helmet earlier in the season. I was able to talk Sully into coming with me even though he is also a lot faster than me he could at least drive me home if I hit my head again. We got stuck in traffic leaving Boulder and texted the group to let them know they could leave without us and maybe we would see them out there. We started the long climb up, which was considerably looser and much more rockier than the previous time I had rode it. Sully dropped me pretty quick (good thing we’re dating and I don’t have to pretend to be fast anymore). After meeting him at the top and not seeing anyone else in the group we started to loop around into a figure eight that would take us back down the mountain. The loop at the top is really fluid and smooth and fun with a few waterbars and some quick short drops and ascends. The next portion is rather a long descent. I rode pretty conservatively, almost annoyingly so. I’m not exactly sure how it happened but on one of the first waterbars I managed to fumble over not land right and get thrown from the bike, landing promptly on a rock. “Ouch! That really hurt!” I told it. Luckily Sully  was far enough ahead that he didn’t see how horribly uncoordinated I can be on a bike so we’re still together. I pretty much psyched myself out after that and rode excessively cautiously. I walked things that I had cleared before and didn’t even entertain the idea of trying to ride where I had hucked myself off the bike. I didn’t think my crash was that bad, (no crash is over a 2 on a scale of 1 to Traumatic Brain Injury, if I remember my name) but commanded the worst bruise of my life out of it.

“That was incredible! It was soo awesome it’s almost unbelievable.” I stated after a ride where I got completely dropped by a bunch of Trek guys in the dark. When I state it like that you’re probably really confused why I’m still relishing in it. Last week I got sent to Trek for work (which is pretty awesome in itself). They brought in dealers from all over the country to ride bikes, see the inner workings of the company and gain some product knowledge. It was the perfect blend of listening to lectures and getting to “harvest the gnar.” The first day I was in the group that rode bikes in the afternoon and saw the process of how they make their carbon frames in the morning. It’s very

I didn’t just ride bikes allll day…

meticulous, and awfully impressive how innovative the process is. But the best part was the riding. They have great trails built up right outside of the factory. Unlike Colorado where it’s a lot of up and then down, here there were short ascends and smooth fluid descents, no major rocks but with lots of technical features built in, including large drops, gap jumps, skinnies, and teeter-totters. The first bike I took out was a Remedy 29er. It came out this summer and I wasn’t sure about it because I didn’t think it would feel as responsive as my 26. I was pleasantly surprised at how capable it felt going into tight corners and didn’t feel like I was missing anything but was impressed by it’s climbing capabilities. I’m not super playful with my remedy so I’m sure a more technically advanced rider would have different feelings.

The next bike I took out was the Crockett, which is new this year. It’s their new cyclecross bike and has generated a lot of buzz because Katie Compton helped design it.  I figured I should try it so I could talk about it a little better and the fact that I’m building up a cyclecross bike but have never

There are cornfield right outside the frame…

actually ridden one, minor detail. Trek had hosted a cyclecross race the previous weekend and had built up a course for it. I started riding it around that and then just kept riding.  When I first got on it felt a little awkward, I was expecting it to fit more like my road bike but it was a much more aggressive position which took a little bit to get used to but it ended up being abnormally comfortable. I didn’t try any cross mounts, mainly because my dad wasn’t there to catch me in case I hucked myself all the way over and it still seems like it requires much more coordination than my body has ever been used to. I was tempted to ride it for the rest of the day but also realized that there was an amazing arsenal of bikes at my disposal.

I was able to return the Crockett and pick up a Superfly 100, which is the bike I rode in Leadville but will full suspension. Sully thinks it would be a good race bike but there is just something about a hardtail that I can’t let go. I told him I would try it though and ran a couple laps on it, it was lively and definitely more forgiving than my hardtail. I was having so much fun that I kept talking myself into one more lap and was the last person back. Sorry not sorry.

The next morning my group took out the bikes first. It was a bit chilly with the feel of fall beginning to encroach. I figured to help warm up I’d start on a road bike. I took a Domane out which was nice but half way through realized that I should have not been a whimp about the cold and fog and taken a mountain bike out. It was good to learn about it though because last time I took one out I had a broken wrist but undiagnosed at the time so was just fixated on the fact that it was suppose to be comfortable but it was in fact not, it had more to do with the two broken bones in my wrist than the bike. I did notice that I was bracing for bumps in the road like I do on my Madone but would seamlessly fly over them carrying my trajectory forward.
Knowing I was limited on time and bikes I hustled out on a Cali SLX, which is a carbon mountain bike but with a women’s specific geometry. It had purple anodized handlebars and I felt that I

If I cleared this and no one was there….did it really happen?

should ride a women’s bike at least once while I was there. It was more upright than I’m position on my Superfly but with the shorter reach to the handlebars it felt a little more nimble and handled really well on the all the little technical things I did with it. Well except for one of the skinnies when I realized I wasn’t going to make it the whole way and instead of bailing like a normal person and just turning and riding off I hucked myself off the bike and landed on one foot. Then I realized how stupid that was because that’s how people brake their leg. One day I will be coordinated, but today was not that day. 

I had just enough time to get one more bike out. Most of the guys had the “manly” bikes out, at least in my size, the Slash 650B, the Remedy and Fuel, so I resorted to a Superfly hardtail. I just never get tired of riding it. I like it because it’s so fast. The Cali is the sister to it, but is also a pound heavier and just didn’t seem as fun. I went and spun some hot laps on it knowing by now where all the technical features are and hitting the lines just right. Oh yah… I’m home.
It just felt like flying…
Saving the best for last we had the option of a night ride. Which I’m not sure why anyone would say no to it, but a lot of people did. Fortunately my old boss had an in with some of the trek guys, I grabbed a light early on but still was trying to wrestle up a bike. I ended up getting a Slash 650B, which has 160mm of travel and more bike than I would ever need. But it was pretty awesome, except for the one time I forgot how wide my handlebars were and clipped a tree. Night rides might be my top 5 favorite things to do, in the dark all your senses are heightened, and everything is coming at you so fast that you’re just thankful that you had enough time to react. The only time I really got nervous is when I didn’t realized I had climbed up onto a teeter-totter and saw this huge drop that I was nowhere prepared for, as I began praying I was carried down to the ground with a fast plunge and a loud thud. “Oh thank heavens!” is all I could say when I got out of the roller coaster wooden planks that followed. It’s been a little over a week and I’m still relishing in that ride. How often do you get to ride with such amazing riders, on their home trails, in the dark and just get you ass handed to you on a silver platter. I’m pretty lucky. 
I realized the other day that I actually have another race in less than a month, which seemed so far away after Leadville. It will certainly be fun, it’s Iceman in Michigan on November 2 and I’m doing it on a tandem. You’re probably thinking none of that sentence sounds fun. But I assure you it will be. 
I’m also planning a trip to Fruita in about a week with Sully, he has some time off from his race schedule and work has been a little hetic lately so it will be a nice break to just ride bikes all day. I have to get a new camelbak for it, as I left a big air canister in mine after Leadville and it exploded, luckily not while I was wearing it…but lesson learned.

Might be time to stop wearing the kids one too.

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